Edible mushrooms are an amazing form of fungi that are used extensively in many cuisines around the world. As well as featuring in stir fries and fry ups, they are also considered to be a robust, versatile staple food that plays a key part in the diets of many vegetarians. As a type of fungi, mushrooms belong to a definitively unique food group, as they possess physiological characteristics of both the animal kingdom and the plant kingdom.
White button and larger flat Portabellos are the most common varieties of mushrooms consumed in the USA and UK as they are readily available in supermarkets. However, more adventurous home cooks use gourmet, sculpturesque varieties such as Chanterelles, Porcini, Shiitake and Oyster mushrooms in their cooking. As part of my ongoing exploration of New York’s amazing network of Greenmarkets, I ventured to Downtown Manhattan’s Tribeca Greenmarket on a sunny Saturday morning and discovered a fascinating mushroom farm called Blue Oyster Cultivation.
Blue Oyster Cultivation is a family-owned gourmet mushroom farm located in Ithaca, New York. It was started and established by fungi expert Joe Rizzo, who was inspired to set up the farm after previously having worked as a middle school teacher teaching botany and life science. Here’s Joe at Blue Oyster Cultivation’s market stall showing me one of his more unusual varieties of fungi: an Artist’s Conk that was found on a fallen beech tree in Ithica.
Aside from cultivating fresh Oyster and Shiitake mushrooms, Blue Oyster Cultivation also produce and sell medicinal mushroom tea, ready to grow mushroom kits, and various dried mushrooms. Here are some of their delicious Golden Oyster and signature Blue Oyster mushrooms.
Joe told me the story of how Blue Oyster Cultivation started out, and about how he cultivates his mushrooms. He also told me about the multiple health and nutritional benefits of consuming them.
You can hear my interview with Joe in full by clicking on the play button below.